Influenza, or the flu, usually sees its secondary peak between the months of November and February, and this year is no exception. But the seasonal illness seems to be taking a lot more toll on the Mumbaikars’ health, with multiple factors colluding to render them defenceless against the viral disease.
Lately, Mumbai’s air quality has been fluctuating as much as its sea levels — so much so that it has even beaten the national capital’s almost perpetually poor air quality index on multiple occasions. The pollution levels, coupled with the sudden shift in temperatures amid changing weather, already spell trouble.
But with the COVID-19 pandemic having altered people’s immunity levels on an elemental level and the drastic reduction in the wearing of masks, the residents of Mumbai have been increasingly complaining of fever, cough, and breathlessness.
Health officials have connected the massive number of patients with respiratory complaints like lingering cough, cold, runny nose, wheezing, throat irritation, and breathing difficulties to a rise in influenza and other respiratory viruses.
“We are seeing an upward trend in influenza cases, mostly H3N2, particularly in the last 15 days. Many patients are complaining of persistent dry cough for up to a few weeks. Bouts of cough can be so severe as to cause blackouts. People with lung and heart conditions are presenting with more severe conditions, including pneumonia, that need hospitalisation,” a health official told The Free Press Journal.
Doctors claim that both children and adults are severely affected by these respiratory issues, with an estimated 5-10% needing hospitalisation. Aged individuals with compromised immunity due to comorbidities may have severe symptoms, especially due to secondary bacterial infection, and require ICU care.
In light of the deteriorating situation, the susceptible population has been asked to avoid crowded places, wear masks and promptly take the flu vaccine.
Seeking medical attention at the first sign of discomfort or any of the symptoms associated with the flu is recommended. Doctors caution against the indiscriminate use of antibiotics and self-medication to treat the flu.
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